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Norristown

Lately I’ve just haven’t been inspired to write on the blog. It’s been a part of me for the past four years. It’s grown to something that I tried to make a part of me, having a hiatus from it every now and then and returning to it is like visiting an old friend. It’s almost like a homecoming sort of speaking as I’m writing this. Much to my surprise, I’ve came across what I would consider somewhat of a homecoming of my hometown.

Norristown, PA

Norristown, PA

In case you haven’t realized for those whom read this that haven’t grown up with me, I come from a Philly suburb called Norristown. It’s has it’s good points and its bad; and it seems like everyone emphasize on the bad aspects. It’s the only town/city/borough (I’ve lost track on what it is actually called now, but I’m sure you can Wiki it) that I know of where it’s the social and economic divide isn’t based on what side of the tracks you’re on but how far from the tracks you are. And yes there is a rail line that separates Norristown almost equally in half; I haled from the East End pretty close to the tracks, so that should give you some prospective on where I come from (it wasn’t any white picket fence and gardens, more like row homes and one tree on the block when it used to have three.) But I can’t complain I feel that I turned out decent as to not fall along one of the rotten stereotype of a Norristownian. Of course it took me to move away from those negative influences in Norristown, enlisting in the Marine Corps, and starting my life a new in the Phoenix Metro area to become such; but I can’t ignore my roots. As hard as one tries to run away from it, they just can deny where they came from.

Recently I’ve stumbled upon a YouTube video that my hometown friends were sharing aptly called “Norristown Anthem” to promote the goodness that is Norristown. And if there is any that can capture the ‘essence’ of Norristown was this homebrew video. Let’s break down this piece if you will and see what makes this a true part of being from Norristown. Since it’s only a four and a half minute video (and you’ll be thanking God that it’s only four and a half minutes long by the end if you’re not from there, but if you’re like me and left the nest, you’ll play it back) I’ll break down each part of it by a link to the timestamp marking of the YouTube video if you wish to follow along with this roller coaster of whatever the hell this is supposed to be.

It starts off with a bunch of kids singing what eventually would be the chorus of the song, a parody of Jay-Z’s “ Empire State of Mind ”. And as bad as a rap that Norristown has among the rest of the Delaware Valley, it’s no wonder why they try to make something like this for the municipality (now that I’ve actually went on to the official site .) Not to mention that it is also from what I can gather was part of a Norristown Men Of Excellence . Now I paused to read up about the organization and it’s strive to fight the good fight and persevere to reach the potential of the middle school and high school students who participate in it. Headed by fellow Norristown alums that I’ve graduated with way back in 2000 (God, that does make me sound old), its services are a well breath of fresh air for the city for this far gone native.

As far as the video is portrayed, I can only safely say that at least the audio when the main artist starts rapping is well produced. He walks around (mainly West Marshall St.’s business district and Main St. from what I can see) describing on how you can rise above the sea of dire straits to become a productive man of society. It showcases business homegrown in Norristown and youth of this current generation and past generations (mine included; now I really feel old.) But what’s most important is that they (the whole ensemble in front and behind the video) try to instill a sense of pride being from Norristown. Not of something of “I survived living in Norristown and all I got was this ” type of pride; but an actual sense of genuine strength that no one aspect can hold anyone down and that their self-will is the only limitation that can prohibit them from going forward. They try to honestly make Norristown a great community. Sure the video has an urbanized feel to it, but that’s because that’s what Norristown is, mostly.

Living there, I can tell you that I can’t find much more of a diverse amalgam of individuals occupying one community. They’re people of all races, creeds, wealth, and various social aspects. You might have thought that because it was an R&B video that it was a mini version of BET’s 106 & Park; but that’s because it was playing to the mood of the video. I bet you if they did a parody of Foo Fighter’s “These Days” for the concept (which I would like to see); there would be a different art direction entirely. I just wanted to put it out there that it is a very diverse town.

Now I wanted to initially rant on the video as something more on the lines of oh how cheesy this is going to be. Then I watched it the first time and my attitude for it didn’t change much. But in order for me to give it an honest review, I watched it a second time with an open mind. And a third, and eventually a seventh time this time after comparing it to its Jay-Z counterpart. And message aside, I much prefer the art direction of “Norristown Anthem” in that it is simply in color (I know, call me a sucker for that good old Technicolor transition scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”) With the message included, Norristown hands on as it’s meaningful and uplifting versus a dressed up smoothed out version of “Hard Knocks Life” by Jay-Z. Additionally; it give great nods to those that are the true essence of Norristown and it’s a homage to those whom lived that experience. I guess it really holds more to me because I spent my infancy all the way up to my adolescent life in “The Heart of Montgomery County” and now looking back, it makes me glad that I lived there; not survived there, lived there.

So what’s my final grade on this video production? I have to give it an appropriate grade for what it’s worth and my final verdict: Three and a half Stony Creek’s (pronounced crick) out of Five. It’s a great video and those whom in power in Norristown should be proud of it. Ultimately, I feel that you can make this out of Anytown, USA and it can relate given it’s context is converted for such. But for me, and the story behind it all, it’ll hold a special place of knowing that I did come from good roots. And even though I’m not there growing with my city, I know that wherever I may roam that I carry on its legacy.

“Never Forget Norristown.” – Ernest Hadrick, Jr.

BootLeG sampler.. signing out…